By Adam Gotkin, newest Terp Talk intern
It took the Maryland Men’s Lacrosse team 42 years to win their most recent
national championship in 2017. Since then, the program has not won a natty but their alumni in the Premier Lacrosse League were able to give Maryland fans something to cheer about last season, when the PLL Whipsnakes won the title in the league’s first year of existence.
When the PLL rosters were first announced last year, Paul Rabli, the co-founder of the league, explained in a Youtube video how the teams were formed. His first point, which he said was one of the most important, was, “We wanted to match teams and the players based on the college they played for.”
Maryland, of course having one of the best college lacrosse programs, got a
team stacked with their alumni. Maryland alumni were primarily designated to the Whipsnakes. The Whips were led by Matt Rambo, a former Maryland star and Tewaaraton winner in the 2017 Championship season.. They won the 2019 PLL title in dramatic fashion in overtime on a Rambo goal. For 2020, they have a chip on their shoulder to repeat.
Everything in 2020 is weird. In their second season, the PLL is embracing the unusual circumstances. The league announced they will be playing a two week long tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. The first of the two weeks will be a group play format where each of the seven teams will play four games against randomly selected opponents. For the Whips, those four games will be against the expansion Waterdogs, the Atlas, the Chaos, and the Redwoods.
After the group play there is a single elimination tournament, where the teams will be seeded one through seven with the number one seed receiving a first round bye. And at the end of it all, one team will be crowned the champion on August 9th, on NBC.
The defending champion Whipsnakes return with one of the most talented
rosters in the league, even with losing one of their top goal scorers, Ryan Drenner (Towson), to the expansion draft. With Drenner gone, the Whips have a hole at the right Attack position. Jay Carlson is a sure fire bet to start alongside MVP Matt Rambo on the left side. Head coach, Jim Stagnitta, could decide to put Brad Smith, a natural midfielder, or Dylan Maltz, one of Rambo’s attack running mates at Maryland, at right attack. The PLL’s leading 2 point scorer, Mike Chanenchuck also returns.
On the defensive side, the Whipsnakes got even stronger, not losing anyone to the expansion draft. They return All-star Kyle Bernlohr in goal who was a nominee for Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year Award and was unstoppable through the 2019 season. In front of him, the trio of Matt Dunn, Bryce Young, and Tim Muller (who were all teammates at Maryland) are all back, ready to repeat their dominant season from last year. The World Cup MVP, LSM Michael Ehrhardt also returns.
Without question, the Whipsnakes begin the shortened season as clear favorites to repeat.
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